Over the weekend, I had the extreme fortune of attending a seminar with 4x CrossFit Games competitor Elisabeth Akinwale. It’s rare we get these types of opportunities in our area. We’re not remote, but we’re 2 hours from both St. Louis and Kansas City, so a little outlying. I was excited not only because someone of her caliber was visiting to teach, but because she is seasoned, close to my age and also a parent. The accomplishment of being able to do all that I feel gives her a unique outlook to training and balance.
While this was definitely a “CrossFit”-oriented seminar, I feel a lot of what we covered could be applied to training in other methodologies. I place CrossFit in quotations because more and more, I feel like the fact that these movements existed before and can be used by anyone no matter their goals.
The 8-hour seminar was split into a morning session that covered introductions and gymnastics, and an afternoon session that covered diet and recovery, barbell work and a Q&A. I didn’t know how much I’d do because my stubborn wrist is still healing and not 100%, but I was able to work on handstand form and even handstand walk form. I loved the progression she taught us, which has plenty of kick-ups against the wall (both front and back-facing) and partner work doing everything from wheelbarrow walks to static supported holds.
We also worked on the rings quite a bit. With 15.3 and my wrist slowly getting better, I’m more eager than ever to reclaim my muscle-ups (which were only strict prior to pregnancy). I’ve struggled like many in the past with the kip to turnover, but she gave me a lot of great tips and drills to work for the next few weeks.
Immediately following lunch we talked nutrition and recovery. This by far was the greatest insight for me, and always something I’m interested to hear from other athletes. To hear someone emphasize that in no uncertain terms that preventative care is the only way to avoid injury in any sport is what all athletes, regardless of discipline need to hear. We are fortunate in CrossFit that mobility is emphasized, but it was nice to hear and see the proof that someone who trains as heavily as she does has remained 98% pain-free because of her regimen.
One of her favorite tools that I’m definitely going to investigate is Therabands. I currently use Crossover Symmetry, as well as resistance bands at our gym to maintain my shoulders, which works on the similar concept of building strength and maintaining mobility through resistance, however these appear to be much more versatile. She also recommended CrossFit New England’s “Bulletproof Shoulders” program, so I will be checking that out as well.
Nutrition-wise, she describes her approach as “eating to live.” It’s not anything restrictive, or disordered, it’s taking a balanced approach and prioritizing the foods and lifestyle that allows her to live and train the way she wants.
The afternoon was barbell, focusing entirely on snatch, which lets face it, what else would you want to focus on when you have a woman who can hang snatch 200 lbs (probably more now) in front of you? Her snatch analysis focuses heavily on the power position and finding the start position based on it. Under this approach, both my power position and start position were different, which is not only interesting to attempt to alter almost 3 years into training, but a new challenge when it comes to say a 2 position snatch. I kept popping out of the revised power position, and therefore out of the hang and ground position — always while she was watching. Of course.
The seminar closed with a discussion of the books and resources she recommends. Borrowing this photo from fellow attendee Susie (above), these are the books she most recommends.
- 10-Minute Toughness by Jason Selk
- The Way of the SEAL: Think Like an Elite Warrior to Lead and Succeed by Dan Divine
- Mind Gym: An Athlete’s Guide to Inner Excellence by Gary Mack
She also had Mantra cards that she keeps in her gym bag, which I think is an excellent idea for mental training leading into competition, or just training in general. We discussed the concept of visualization, which is ironic because I’ve been reading a good deal on it. In short, studies have shown that athletes who visualize their training, or in essence visually rehearse perform better. This concept can easily be applied to business, etc as well.
I could obviously go on and on about my experiences and take-aways from the seminar, but that’s a good summary of my day with Elisabeth Akinwale. A HUGE thank you to Jefferson City CrossFit for hosting and for Tyler for generously sending me!
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